"A pagan of the
pagans" comments M.P.
The pagan views of H. G. Wells were the subject of stinging comment in the House of Commons last week when the question of granting him an exit permit to lecture in the U.S.A. was debated.
" The Christian religion," said Lord Winterton, " is still a very powerful factor in the United States, and avowed opponents of Christianity get short shrift at the hands of the electors if they put up for any public office.
" Perhaps a personal reminiscence may be pardoned. In support of my case in regard to religious feeling in America, I shoald like to mention that I was present last autumn at a luncheon given to the inter-Governmental Committee in the United States, who assembled for a sionference at which I represented the British Government. There were present at that luncheon the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Eastern States, the Mayor of New York-himself an avowed Catholic-representatives and heads of the Episcopalian Church, the Methodist Church and the Jewish community. Throughout the very eloquent speeches which were made by several of those gentlemen, I was struck by the fact that there ran as strong, if not stronger, than anything which one finds in this country, a feeling of the essential unity of all religions in regard .to certain matters, such as their dislike of
the Nazis." .
OPPONENT OF RELIGION
" Yet we allow to go to the United States, as representative of Britain and British literature. a man who prides himself on being an opponent of all religion. who says there is no such thing, or that it is a medieval superstition.
Referring to specific statements, Lord Winterton instanced the sneer at Lord Gort as a " praying general."
" Lord Gort's offence in Mr. Wells' eyes is that he dares to confess himself to be a Christian, to belong to that so-called outworn creed which Mr. Wells so detests and which he is exercising his puny efforts in his declining years to attack with the greatest vituperation."
A sinister explanation of Wells' conduct was suggested by the " class of Sixth Columnists in France who for years have tried to shake the faith of Frenchmen in all the spiritual and material institutions of France."
LIBERTY NOT CHRISTIANITY Answering Lord Winterton, Emmanuel Shinwell denied that we are fighling for Christianity ; we were fighting for liberty.
Towards the end ,of the debate, Thomas Magnay, National Liberal, vigorously defended Christianity And Christians.
" This is not the first time," he said, " we have been indebted to a praying general. There was a man. when I was a boy, called Gordon and he was a praying general, and there was a man in my grandfather's time called Havelock, and he was a praying general. jithe last war, when our very lives were at hazard, we had a praying general in Foch. All this talk comes from an agnostic who is going past his best in his dotage.
" That is the difference between a pagan and a Christian." Mr. Magnay ended. " Ever IP day we have prayers in this House. and I always take great care to be here so that I may join in the communion of Saints, in praying to the God of the living and not of the dead-and as I am at prayer I call on all the Christian resources of the past, both living and dead.
" This man knows nothing about that. He is a pagan of the pagans. We Christians believe in a better life. We want, in the Mother of Patliaments, to make it quite clear that the common man in the streets, for whom I speak, resents very much these speeches of Mr. Wells, and regrets that a permit was given to him to enable him to say these dreadful things."